The Forager/Farmer Thesis Is Wrong

Robin Hanson has been beating the drum on his liberaltarian wet dream known as the forager/farmer thesis in a series of posts. Basically, “liberal” values and lifestyle are a reflection of humanity’s ancient forager (hunter-gatherer) ways, while “conservative”, or traditional, values and lifestyle are emergent properties of our relatively more recent 10,000 year old farmer (agricultural) heritage. Modern foragers in the form of cafe-loitering SWPLs sipping dragonwell tea and reading Dan Savage columns are essentially freeriding on the industrial and moral substrates that were created by rules-following and hierarchical farmer ancestors. Thanks to their comfy livings and safe environments, elite cosmopolitan liberals in Western societies are returning to the values and lifestyles of their distant forager forebears, while modern traditionalists hew to more rigid codes of conduct and warn them (in so many words) that all foraging and no farming makes Jack a weak boy. (You can see where this is heading.)

If you buy Hanson’s thesis, this neatly explains blue state vs red state, Obama vs Bush, open borders nuts vs immigration realists, and Apple vs Windows.

Hanson relies for much of his speculative evidence on the Sex At Dawn book, which I promiscuously manhandled here. But there’s too much wrong with the claims made by that book to sufficiently lend support to the Forager vs Farmer (i.e., liberal vs conservative) thesis of clashing values and lifestyles.

For instance, Hanson and Ryan elide the force of jealousy in shaping human sexual dynamics. If we were built for polyamory as Ryan claims, or free love promiscuity as Hanson says, then jealousy would not have evolved to the extent it did (among Euro-descended people at least) to become a powerfully ingrained emotional hindbrain response to infidelity or suspicions of cheating. Both men and women experience jealousy, though men seem to react more violently when in its throes, (as would be predicted by a “farmer” reading of sociosexuality, since men stand more to lose by a cheating lover).

In addition, just about every polyamorous, free love utopia/forager commune that has been tried in historical record has utterly failed, some of them spectacularly. (It’s no coincidence that most dedicated polyamorists are androgynous, middle-aged frumps.)

Hanson and Ryan claim foragers are/were nonviolent compared to farmers. But from everything I’ve read on the matter, that is wrong as well: modern hunter-gatherers have impressive levels of tribal violence, mostly of the raiding and randomly savage variety. Farmers are also capable of violence, but when they do it the violence is coordinated and planned; the random individual violence that typifies forager society isn’t a steady state feature of farmer existence. I’m not going to dig around for relevant links, so I’ll throw it open to the commenters to do the dirty work.

Finally, a big point of Hanson’s repackaged thesis is that “rich and safe” modern foragers — implicitly the intellectual and social liberal elites of Western society — pursue and advocate a promiscuous lifestyle. Except the data show that isn’t necessarily true. Higher IQ men place greater value on monogamy and sexual exclusivity and are less likely to cheat than lower IQ men.

There are too many holes in this tidy farmer/forager outlook to take it as anything more than United States of Canada porn for self-satisfied cosmopolitan lefties to jack their head hamsters off to. And I say this as someone who lives to the fullest the modern, promiscuous forager lifestyle. I know its personal appeal, and its immolating potential for the wider society.


  1. Roissy, don’t you see? Hanson is a reason-driven person. He is just looking for a theory that helps him to justify staying with his wife and having an affair on the side.


  2. United States of Canada porn for self-satisfied cosmopolitan lefties to jack their head hamsters off to.

    brilliant! They do loves themself some self-congratulating for being so marvelously marvelous.


  3. He makes a couple of basic logical mistakes.

    First, the biggie is the “fallacy of nature” — just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s morally right or even produces a desireable outcome. How bonobos live has ABSOLUTELY NO RELEVANCE to modern human behavior.

    Second, a related point is that explanations are not justifications. Even if his analysis of the clash between farmers and foragers is absolutely accurate (and it isn’t), it tells us nothing about what’s right or what’s appropriate. All it does is invite us to pick a side in an age-old conflict. So what?


  4. on October 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm Chad Buffington

    It sounds like he’s just reinterpreting the Apollonian / Dionysian dichotomy.

    “In Greek mythology, Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the god of the Sun, music, and poetry, while Dionysus is the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication. In the modern literary usage of the concept, the contrast between Apollo and Dionysus symbolizes principles of individualism versus collectivism, light versus darkness, or civilization versus primitivism.”

    “Camille Paglia writes about the Apollonian and Dionysian in her book Sexual Personae [2]. The two concepts split a set of dichotomies that create the basis of Paglia’s theory. For her, the Dionysian is dark and chthonic while the Apollonian is light and structured. The Dionysian is associated with females, wild/chaotic nature, and unconstrained sex/procreation, while the Apollonian is associated with males, clarity, rationality/reason, and solidity, along with the goal of oriented progress. Paglia attributes all the progress of human civilization to masculinity revolting against the Dionysian forces of nature, and turning instead to the Apollonian trait of ordered creation. The Dionysian is a force of chaos and destruction which is the overpowering and alluring chaotic state of wild nature, and the turn away from it towards socially-constructed Apollonian virtues accounts for the prevalence of asexuality and homosexuality in geniuses and in the most culturally prosperous places such as ancient Athens.”


  5. The weakest links in that theory are:

    1. The assumption of widespread polyandry — not noted in any human culture to any significant degree. Unless one counts gang rape as “polyandry” it seems very unlikely that human societies were ever significantly (voluntarily for the women at least) polyandrous due to the still significant sexual dimorphism between males and females and the reality of female sexual hypergamy — both of which largely contraindicate any notion of widespread female polyandry.

    2. The lack of an explanation for the ubiquitous feature of human sexual jealousy other than as a cultural artifact of farming — not proven, and highly speculative given the depth and intensity of human sexual jealousy among females and males alike.

    3. The lack of any serious discussion about the link between monogamy and what we know as civilization, and the rather glib assumption that our modern technostate can subsist in a stable culture with predominant polygyny as the norm (because that’s what it is … polyandry doesn’t really exist, what happens without any rules is soft or hard polygyny due to female hypergamy).


  6. PA maxim No. 5:

    The validity of any contemporary social theory that implicitly flatters left/liberals is suspect.


  7. Strange, my IQ is 145 and I bone as many broads as I can.


  8. Polys and swingers tend to be fairly unattractive.

    I remember a Sexcetra show where they tracked down some eminent polys. One fat Orca whale after another. If that’s the best that they can put forward….


  9. Novaseeker,

    The fact that human males aren’t very inclined to murder children do indicate that paternal uncertainty have been a big feature of our evolutionary history. If men typically were sure which children were theirs we’d likely behave more like lions or gorillas.

    That human estrus is hidden is also strong evidence that having sex with different men, in order to safeguard offspring and gain resources, has been an important evolutionary strategy for human and pre-human females.

    This doesn’t suggest that human females aren’t hypergamous, just that there has been strong evolutionary pressures to fool many men into thinking her offspring is theirs.


  10. It used to be thought rich people were “conservatives” and poor people were “liberals.” And yet now a majority of rich people are liberals.

    I think the breakdown is that people who make or grow stuff are conservatives, and people who trade things or money are liberals. Being rich or having property is not an issue. I can’t say now why this is.


  11. Thrasymachus, these are just labels and the change meaning in time. Let alone that a liberal meant something different in 1960 than what it means today (e.g. what is called a classical liberal… essentially the label has been liberated by radical lefties).

    In today’s world, the conservative wants to conserve what is theirs, while liberals want to liberate it for themselves (with crumbs thrown to their affirmative tools).


  12. on October 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm Half Canadian

    Violence among farmers vs hunter/gatherers.

    There aren’t many hunter/gatherer societies left, and these societies aren’t pacifists, but pacifism isn’t a viable foreign policy either.

    The notion of non-violent hunter/gatherers smacks of the ‘noble savage’, a terrible thesis that has caused more harm than good. Yes, the Indians of America (can’t stand Native Americans) were violent, savage and cruel. Just as our ancestors were.

    Farmers displaced hunter-gatherers not because they were more violent, but because they were able to grow their populations more by providing a more reliable source of food. Pastoral societies, like the Mongols, beat the $h!t out of farmers because of a technological improvement known as the domesticated horse. Throw in a stirrup and proficient riding skills (having a composite bow to shoot from horseback is a plus), and you could conquer the known world (if you didn’t have to retreat to HQ to elect a new leader every time).

    This is just shoe-horning some of the facts into a theory. I can’t take it seriously.


  13. That human estrus is hidden is also strong evidence that having sex with different men, in order to safeguard offspring and gain resources, has been an important evolutionary strategy for human and pre-human females.

    This doesn’t suggest that human females aren’t hypergamous, just that there has been strong evolutionary pressures to fool many men into thinking her offspring is theirs.

    The hidden human estrus (which is hidden from females themselves) could just as easily be explained by a genetic wiring to encourage women not to time their mating by limiting it only to those men to whom they are attracted when they are in high estrus so as to enable women to pursue a dual strategy. Women know when they are the most horny, of course, but it’s only recently that the most horny period in the cycle has been scientifically linked with being the most fertile, and therefore only recently that women had the knowledge that their horny period was also the period of estrus. The U Michigan study also confirms that women are, indeed, differently attracted, sexually, during the estrus phase than they are during the rest of the month — but are mostly unaware of this difference (in terms of relating it to estrus). That view supports the dual strategy mentioned in Matt Ridley’s book “The Red Queen” — pair bonding PLUS cuckolding.

    Or, for those who are into the sperm competition theory, what Robin Baker described in “Sperm Wars” as “regular service” — that is, regular sex with the pair bond male mate so as to sustain the intimacy required to retain his parental resources while also putting him off the trail that she may be cuckolding him during his fertile period — perhaps even culminating, as Baker suggests, in “covering sex” with the pair bond mate immediately after the cuckolding sex so as to further confuse the issue of parenting, if ever questioned.

    The wiring to confuse paternity is there, but that just as easily supports the monogamy PLUS cuckolding theory as it does the Sex at Dawn/'”bonobo orgy” theory, but, in my view, is vastly superior because it provides a basis in the evolution of our sexuality for the very strong element of human sexual jealousy — i.e., an evolved behavior, stronger in men, precisely to counter the bonding PLUS cuckolding strategy being deployed by females.


  14. on October 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm Johnathan Blaze

    Normally I think you’re spot-on, but I disagree that jealousy over sex partners is an evolved trait.

    Jealousy itself is an evolved trait, sure. Jealousy over someone who has more than you, be it money, food, hunting prowess, whatever. It is this jealousy that makes us strive to be better ourselves and attract better sex partners.

    No one gave a shit about “cheating” until the advent of monogamy, and monogamy has only existed for a very small part of human history.


  15. I’m surprised at this disagreement between Roissy and Hanson. I read the two as largely agreeing.

    Roissy has made this claim for years: 1) Feminism dismantled society’s conservative sexual mores. 2) This is bad for society in the long run.

    Hanson, to me, is agreeing on claim (1). He’s making a substantive claim that we’re moving away from a Farmer society and towards a Forager society. Hanson seems more agnostic on claim (2), the normative judgment whether or not forager values are a good thing. Roissy bristles because he reads Hanson as supporting Forager values. When it comes to sex, my bet is that Hanson would actually prefer the Farmers’ views. Hence why he says Sex at Dawn’s “uncomfortable truths shook [him] to the core.”


  16. ‘jealousy would not have evolved to the extent it did (among Euro-descended people at least)’

    Given that you seem to concede jealousy is not necessarily common between Europeans and other lineages, that would suggest that it is a complex, precise, hereditary psychological mechanism that evolved in an evolutionary blink of perhaps ten thousand years.

    It would make far more sense to infer that jealousy is a cultural development. There are many tribes that simply do not understand the Western fixation on paternity and fidelity. It would make perfect sense if such concerns were created by social custom and social beliefs. All of the stories we tell our children presume monogamy, and jealousy abounds in nearly all of our mainstream fiction. There’s an excellent causal explanation as to why the culture developed this feeling – protection of hereditary property rights – but it is entirely possible, if not highly probably, that jealousy is a cultural reaction and not a genetic fact.

    The mere fact that it is widespread is not meaningful evidence that it is genetically caused. Nearly everyone would be scared by a stranger pointing a gun at them, but there can be no doubt we need a certain level of acculturation to fear guns. We simply have a genetic fear of death that our knowledge applies to guns. Similarly, if we perceive partner infidelity as a massive threat to our status, we need only have a genetic fear of status-loss to become jealous. A culture that did not understand “infidelity” would not see such a reaction, which is in fact what we observe.


  17. Johnathan Blaze

    No one gave a shit about “cheating” until the advent of monogamy, and monogamy has only existed for a very small part of human history.

    Not true. Before monogamy, when polygamy was more common, if a woman cheated and was caught, all her problems resulting from that fact were quite short lived. Men did give a damn whose genes the offspring inherited.


  18. on October 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm Harmonious Jim

    I think Hanson deserves considerable praise: 99% of academic bloggers wouldn’t dare touch this kind of material. Most academic blogs are dreary, dessicated, deserts.

    He misses the hbd angle though. African tropical foragers would probably have been having more Sex-at-Dawn sex than high latitude foragers, with their chilly dawns. (We know that tropical African farmers, have more polygamy than winter-coping farmers. Hanson’s “farmer” qualities apply more to Northerners.) So post-industrial Africans will probably be more Sex-at-Dawn-ish than say post-industrial Koreans.


  19. If there was a ever a post in this blog which I suspect was not written by the original host it is this one.

    No complains here. Just an observation. I completely agree with the post.


  20. I find Hanson’s Farmer/Forager distinction quite compelling, but Roissy makes some good points.

    America’s upper class is more likely to get and stay married than the underclass and working class, where relationships are very much of the baby-mama/baby-daddy style.

    It’s weird how many raging liberals strive to inculcate their families in conservative monogamous values, as they push leftism and social destruction on everyone else.


  21. – Jealousy isn’t cultural. It’s hard-wired. It’s figured right into the base elements of the brain. Examine your own reactions. Come home to your wife or husband pounding it out with someone else. This is right up there with the emotional reactions to fight-flight. It’s biological. It’s also completely cross-cultural. Murdering someone for touching another sexual partner is one of the most common themes in every world literature. Grief at losing a sexual partner to someone else, and the urge to do violence to that someone else, is also common. It’s much more common among men, but not uncommon among women.

    – Polyamory isn’t stable as a mating strategy. The first cheater – the one who guards the females and beats the living shit out of any males who try to get close – will fuck up the ratio, and a few generations later he represents the majority of the male-descended offspring. Mate-guarding for males is extremely sensible. Polyamory only works in conditions of extreme abundance.

    – Polyamory exists nowhere in any culture in any recognizable sense except in the fantasies of some aged, androgynous or libidinous modern populations living high on the hog in extreme abundance. Some cultures care slightly less about parentage, some more, but the cultures that don’t care about it are rare even among historically attested and currently existing hunter-gatherer groups.

    – Hunter/gatherers hardly represent anything liberal, fundamentally or in specific. They kill almost without hesitation; they represent the most violent of all societies on record; their levels of interpersonal violence are off the scale, when compared to even war-time death rates among agricultural societies; they are often much more hostile to newcomers or interlopers (especially in marginal lands, but this is also true of many Amazon or ecologically rich forest-dwellers, too). They often exercise brutal control of female sexuality, the sexuality of lesser males, and are riven by class: often, these classes are invisible, but many groups (the Yanomamo, for example) remember who “immigrated’ from another tribe, and that person carries a certain stigma forever; and they interfere in each others’ lives and decisions on a regular basis, it being a very personal-level of organization.

    Don’t forget the variety among hunter-gatherers. Their range runs a huge gamut from socially open and peaceful to de-facto murderous and oppressive.

    I’m going to bet that early HG groups were even more diverse.


  22. Brazilian indians practice nazi-like levels of eugenics wrt newborns. You will never see an indian child with any deffects.


  23. All the nice liberal feel-good be nice to each other stuff that they think makes any sense – and multiculturalism, especially – is anathema and dreck to virtually all other cultural groups.

    This is especially true of HG groups.

    I have no idea where people get off idealizing these societies.

    SWPL have no idea how brutal the world of humans actually can be.

    It’s why they can deride democracy. It’s also why conservatives can do it.

    They don’t know: Kings lop your head off and rape your wife if they don’t like you. They massacre whole villages out of spite. Idi Amin; Saddam Hussein.

    This is what we get when you hate and dismantle the values that created the modern world.

    Hitlers multiply like cockroaches.

    Farmers and pastoralists mowing down forests for low-level unproductive subsistence economies. Populations expanding to the very limit of their resources and then collapsing, inventing or butchering each other like rats.

    This is the reality of the human condition. Not peaceful farmers respecting the environment.

    It’s what all animals do.

    Humans are animals. This it the one thing that SWPLs, religious nuts, and conservatives all get wrong.

    Humans are animals. We behave like them, do things just like they do, for mostly the same reasons, and with the same results.

    Intelligent chipmunks will ravage their environment and probably kill each other, too.


  24. Chateau:
    Higher IQ men place greater value on monogamy and sexual exclusivity and are less likely to cheat than lower IQ men.

    An interesting finding, that. So, you polygynous rascals you, what’s it like knowing that you’re evolutionarily retarded?


  25. Any kind of cheating is bad, may it be in a one-one relationship or a man with several wives. Jealously and violent reactions to cheating don’t prove polyamory is the old norm, but that loyalty and honestly on the woman’s part is an evolutionary requirement.

    I’m all for the best of the best of men plucking women out of their beta/feminist driven lives and knocking them up. Spread the seed of alpha. “Modern civilization” is falling. Let the new, neo-tribal future arise for the white Western man.


  26. @Roissy / Anon –

    You claim that jealousy is stronger amongst Europeans. I’ve never heard of this before. What is your reasoning behind this? Just curious.

    [Editor: None, except what I know about the sociosexual dynamic on different continents. It could very well be the case that jealousy (note: jealousy is distinct from envy) is a universal emotion.]


  27. on October 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm You're a dummy

    Higher IQ men place greater value on monogamy and sexual exclusivity and are less likely to cheat than lower IQ men.

    An interesting finding, that. So, you polygynous rascals you, what’s it like knowing that you’re evolutionarily retarded?

    You’re a fucking dummy.

    You’re obviously one of those IQ confirmation-bias loving fetishists.

    The only thing that makes one “evolutionarily retarded” is the inability to pass on your genes in the form of surviving offspring into the next generation. If you pass on your genes, you are evolutionarily a success. The more you pass them on, the more evolutionarily successful you are.

    People with higher IQs and more resources can afford to have less kids because their kids have a higher likelihood of survival. People with lower IQs and less resources can compensate for those disadvantages by reproducing more. This is also a valid strategy for evolutionary success.

    Having a high IQ is not an automatic indicator of evolutionary success. Surviving and reproducing is. If you’re surviving and reproducing, you’re an evolutionary winner. If you aren’t surviving and reproducing, then you are evolutionarily retarded. As people of higher IQs continue to reproduce less and cling to monogamy more than people of lower IQs, the high IQ people are actually proving themselves to be the ones who are evolutionarily retarded because they aren’t reproducing fast enough to keep up.


  28. on October 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm Gunslingergregi

    Yea but blacks and whites are almost diferent species.

    Blacks really seem to have no problem with having 5 guys or more fuck one chick right after the other.

    Called running a train or gangbang.

    Now maybe they have jealousy in a monogamous relationship.

    But when it is just some bitch everyone gets a turn.

    Not just shit I saw when I was younger but also black guys I have talked to have told stories about gang banging white bitches like it is normal.

    So it wasn’t just my area of country.

    People might think it is isolated incidents but I think common. Not like all bitches be lining up but definetly a percentage.

    Just another day in the life.


  29. If conservative or traditional values are novel or emergent while forager values are less evolved, why would “progressives” want anything to do with the second. A big part of the “progressive” outlook is that they are so much more “evolved” than conservatives.

    In a way, the advent of farming created both the SWPL class and the more conservative “industrial” class. Farming, for the first time, allowed the creation of surplus. It may be the first instance, the invention if you like, of capital.

    It is only with the surplus wealth of modern capitalistic societies (over and above that needed for survival) where so-called “liberal” values can only exist.

    Indeed the SWPL class would be lost without the conservatives: if they did not have the conservatives to inveigh against, what would the do?


  30. I thought polyamory was what college-educated sluts used as a euphemism for sleeping around.


  31. DU —

    The reason the SWPLs favor their made-up version of “forager” mentality is because they can, and do, pick and choose this and that which they suppose foragers engaged in regularly, while jettisoning the rest. In other words, it doesn’t matter that foragers were technically rather stagnant, were extremely violent, were undemocratic and so on — because SWPLs can pretend that foragers were more or less like the hippies and Woodstock – free love and free ganja, and peace, love and understanding, mon! And some of them are writing books about how the agricultural revolution was a disaster because it led to environmental destruction, overpopulation (in their mind) and (again in their mind) “patriarchy” … whereas we’d all be feminized and groovy if we were still the cool cat hunter-gatherers.

    I’ll repeat what I said in the post about Sex and Dawn. The SWPL liberals are threatened by evo psych theories, because these more or less directly undermine precious SWPL values like egalitarianism, equality, the blank slate and 100% social conditioning. So what they have decided to do, in addition to fighting (and mostly not winning) evo psych proponents, is to come up with an alternative pseudo-history. It’s basically the SWPL interpretation of evo-psych, based on a “noble savage” concept of how primitive humans behaved — which amounts to being the self-same “just so” exercise that the SWPL’s first condemned the evo-psych’s of doing in the first place, lmao, except in a much less convincing way because it fails to adequately address the near unversal, visceral and strong sexual jealousy present in men in most places on earth with a simple, dismissive (and wholly unsatisfactory) wave of the hand and a blithe referral to some African tribes that are not monogamous (Gee … they competed well with monogamous societies, didn’t they?).

    In sum, it’s a pathetic attempt by SWPLs to open a new front in their war against evo-psych, and it’s very flawed. But it’s entertaining.


  32. Liberals believe in an alternate history, a kind of Liberal Creationism.

    In this world, we’re not animals, and everything we do is culturally programmed. You can Better us just through education.

    We have no basic nature.

    They believe this absolutely. In fact, they believe it so strongly that any opposing opinions register in them on the level of “disgusting” – you have to be an evil person to believe X or oppose them.

    But that, too, is a natural reaction for them to have, something deeply programmed into them.

    Their reactions just illustrate how we we march to our scripts all pre-set and pre-installed.


  33. Blacks really seem to have no problem with having 5 guys or more fuck one chick right after the other.

    From what I’ve heard black Americans certainly seem to have less of a ‘proximity’ issue with group sex, but I’ve also known white cliques that will definitely gangbang a chick and make no bones about it.

    Allegedly the Vikings were like this too, depending on the cicrumstances. So this is probably mostly acculturation. As you say yourself, black men have their girlfriends that they mate guard and then their are communal hos; which seems like a pretty common phenomena all over the world. There just isn’t as much discretion among blacks about it.


  34. […] disagrees with me. I respond at length […]


  35. I don’t like the forager/farmer terminology at all. Hunting and gathering are way too different activities as are animal husbandry and agriculture. Sloppy word usage leads to sloppy thinking.


  36. I think the Forager/Farmer thesis is backwards. Agriculture led to towns, increased population and rules. Hunter Gatherers had strong and long bones, with good teeth. The farmers had weak short bones, and very poor teeth.

    My formulation is the forager are the conservatives, and the farmers are the leftists. (They don’t deserve the word liberal)


  37. Blacks really seem to have no problem with having 5 guys or more fuck one chick right after the other.

    Called running a train or gangbang.

    Obviously, that’s not necessarily true of ALL blacks. But there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

    Speaking as a white dude who’s been on several basketball teams that were predominantly black, running trains on white “ho’s” is just considered a part of the life for brothaz who play high level sports (especially basketball). But also very true of DJ’s, rappers and their posses too.

    Never heard of a bunch of white football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, etc. players running a train on some girl. Even the lacrosstitutes tend to take it from one dude at a time (which exposes another gaping hole in Crystal Gayle Magnum’s phony 2006 Duke lacrosse rape charges — white lacrosse players would be highly unlikely to hold some black stripper/prostitute down and gang bang her, as doing so would violate white, upper-middle class social mores on several levels … and because white lacrosse players are busy banging upper-middle class lacrosse groupies).


  38. on October 19, 2010 at 1:32 am Computer Scientist

    The Hunter-Gather led to the Industrial Revolution which allowed for more liberal ideas. After the emancipation of the industrial revolution in the current day Post Industrial Revolution. Progressivism has risen.

    As Post Industrial Revolution dies down and a new form if ideal rise. They certainty won’t be conservative. Each new generation is more liberal/progressive then the last.

    All of you conservatives have been on the losing side for the last 1800 years. Technology brings about liberal ideas. If you don’t like progressives or liberal I suggest you move to Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, or Mexico. They are much more conservative then those liberal Americans.


  39. […] today, on everyone’s fave, Citizen Renegade, a great post called “The Forager/Farmer Thesis Is Wrong” in which Chateau apparently launches the opening salvo of a fledging feud between himself and Robin […]


  40. Any retard who knows the first thing about primitive societies knows that War Before Civilization was more brutal and violent.


  41. on October 19, 2010 at 4:56 am David Collard

    Not sure if this is relevant, but American anthropologists in particularly seem to forget that Australian Aborigines were – until very recently – living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    They were just as “sexist” and violent as any other group of human beings.


  42. @You’re a dummy

    Woah, way to overreact to a joke. Must have hit a nerve there, buddy. Anyway, most of the stuff you say is so blatantly obvious it’s not really worth answering to. Except for this little nihilistic point – any intelligent person who sees the rate at which idiots are breeding all over the world and well-educated, well-to-do people opt for childlessness or adoption would mean that reproducing would basically be like throwing a coupla pearls into a stagnant pool of mud. Of course , refraining to do so further increases the relative muddiness of the pool. Of course pearls are less likely to be found in there. Noes no pearls of yours in the pool means you lost the evolution game. But essentially, who cares? Rearing children in this world, the sorry state it is in, is both irresponsible and fruitless, and if you say you’re still fucking around for evolutionary reasons (aka no contraceptives) and not for your rampant libido (using protection, your screwing around is not really making a contribution evolution-wise) then I’d say you’re a headcase and no mistake. Have a good day now.


  43. It used to be thought rich people were “conservatives” and poor people were “liberals.” And yet now a majority of rich people are liberals.

    This is because, in a nutshell (courtesy of
    So the elites made a big show of being liberal. It’s no different in America today. If you want people to like you, convince them you’re with the new and hip, the unique, the people-powered, “The People,” the tolerant, the Progressive, the nice-to-everyone, the great granter of gifts to the dispossessed, etc. They don’t honestly believe these views. They use their views as a justification for their status and wealth, and in an attempt to make the crowd not tear them apart.

    Even if you’re rich, you still have to do enough status-seeking so that people will still want to invest money with you or at least you won’t get torn apart by a mob. The past decade or two (or arguably, ever since WW2) has been all about showing how much you’re down with the kids to make the moolah. That is of course mostly applicable to entertainment/arts/media, which are the domains of the liberal-left. For all their hate of those “big evil fatcats” in business, finance etcetera, said industries aren’t under as much scrutiny because a) they’re not SWPL/lib-left’s area of expertise or interest, nor is it Joe Public’s, and b) they don’t represent the propaganda wing so as long as they don’t pipe up with anything too unprogressive, they can get away with nefarious financial deeds.


  44. I would say the forager/farmer thesis is a false dichotomy, but onto something perhaps.

    I’m not trying to make a glib argument for linear progressivism but Liberal Man to me represents man having reached a new civilisation plateau of sorts. As infrastructures grow, people become increasingly interdependent on one another compared to the “each and every man for himself” of primitive times. This means society has gradually selected for less self-sufficient, more dependent people. The upside is that everyone helps one another to achieve greater things, the downside is people turn from independently-minded lone wolves to herd-mentality sheep. The history of society has been some awkward struggle/balance between the two, among many other things. You can see how liberals are into welfare, and conservatives into self-sufficiency and sometimes even survivalism.

    Whilst it’s great that we’ve moved on from primitive times to enjoy numerous comforts, what is exceptionally naive of liberals is that their notion of progress is pacifying the population and making them more susceptible to manipulation as they become more placid and sheep-like and less able to think for themselves. Useful idiots. Power to the people my arse! One main tenet of conservatism for me is that people will be less free because they will be bred to be less free – less able to fight for their freedom and too high on cultural opiates to notice their lack of it.

    Liberal democracy has done a better job of pacifying its subjects than Soviet Russia did. The latter forgot to soften them up first.


  45. This is a very interesting, if somewhat incoherent, rant. I would point out two things:

    First, you seem to argue that jealousy has a genetic/evolutionary basis, and yet you imply that this holds only for Europeans and Westerners. If human evolution drives the jealously train, should it not manifest universally? Alternate theory: jealously is a social construction required for or necessitated by Christian moral philosophy combined with Capitalism and the idea of individual property ownership. The concept is at its core an economic one, since an orderly transfer of property, once the idea took hold, depended on identification of progeny. Without the concept of private property and the norm that it should pass to heirs, men have no reason to worry about which children they sired.

    I also wonder whether you read Kanazawa’s research beyond the first line of the article you linked to. To be sure, he shows a correlation between high intelligence and a desire for monogamy and sexual exclusivity. But he frames this as an evolutionary novelty–that is, human reason and sentience allowed people to behave against their evolutionary pressures, and intelligent humans are more likely to do this. Kanazawa himself points out that monogamy would not be a good evolutionary strategy for early humans, suggesting that evolution would drive a more promiscuous society since this would create a wider variety of human beings and improve the chances of species survival.


  46. on October 19, 2010 at 10:53 am Blonde Brother

    MMM Bop


  47. Who is the most famous forager in history? Genghis Khan. The secret of his success? “He who follows me gets a share of the loot.” Remind you of any modern political movements?


  48. You claim that jealousy is stronger amongst Europeans. I’ve never heard of this before. What is your reasoning behind this? Just curious.

    [Editor: None, except what I know about the sociosexual dynamic on different continents. It could very well be the case that jealousy (note: jealousy is distinct from envy) is a universal emotion.]

    How much of this is resource competition? In premodern Europe, the children of dads did much better than the children of cads. In premodern tropical Africa, there wasn’t so much difference. So a European man gets pissed if “his” woman is having sex with someone else, because it means he’s going to support a child that isn’t his, while an African man doesn’t care so much, because the woman is going to take care of all the kids, and the man doesn’t need to contribute anything but sperm.

    Black American behavior changed significantly when welfare became available to single mothers merely for being single mothers. How much of the white American resentment for “welfare queens” is psycho-sexual jealousy at being forced to support other men’s children?


  49. Hunting is a profoundly different thing than gathering. It is primarily a male activity for one, though both sexes may participate it requires a male mindset.

    Gathering is primarily a female activity, again, both sexes may participate but it requires a female mindset.

    This speaks to the fact that the female mindset is never satisfied, there is always a little bit of good fruit just out of reach. The male mindset is much more capable of satisfaction. You hunt something down. You kill it. You are done. Satisfaction results.


  50. […] liberalism, and that industrialization has allowed for a return to forager ways – I found a rather puzzling critique on the idea, aimed in part at the claim of monogamy not being a liberal/forager […]


  51. Azar Gat in his book “War in Human Civilization” puts to bed the notion that hunter gatherers were more peaceful than civilizations. He estimates the attrition rate at 30% for most H/G groups — think inner city ghettoes with no police or other authorities of order. This mostly came from ambushes and night time raids. H/G’s also had set piece battles but these were mostly for show with very few casualties– think NFL on Sundays.

    So no, today’s SWPL’s have nothing to do with H/G groups, go to the ghetto for to see the foragers.


  52. Not mentioned by the proponents of these theories is that they are easy to test. Monogamy and polyandry should produce remarkably different signatures of Y-chromosome versus mtDNA selection in our genes. Since we’ve been studying these signatures for years and no geneticist AFAIK has remarked on any change of this kind during the transition from foraging to farming, I have to conclude that the argument for such a radical change during the transition from foraging to farming is all wet. Humans have been monogamous with sporadic polygyny all along, and as a result Y chromosomes populations have persisted for tens of thousands of years — not quite as long as mtDNA, but far longer than if ancient foragers were as promiscuous as Ryan would have it.


  53. The thesis has some truth to it in terms of consumption.

    Foragers will consume existing resources of a region at un-sustainable rates until there is nothing left. Then they will move on to another region and consume its resources, often battling off the natives to the new region with a violent sense of entitlement. They create nothing and consume all with no sense of consequence…. like a cancer or parasite. (Now think about how entitled socialists have burnt through America’s wealth)

    “Farmers” look for long-term, self-sustaining solutions, and CREATE their own resources. They’ll violently protect what they’ve created from invading “foragers”. In some cases of co-existence, their resources are required to sustain both farmers and foragers of a region.

    To me the “farmer” does clearly represent more conservative traits, but these days there are examples of both liberal and conservative “foragers” in a society of self-entitlement in North America. With manufacturing (=creating=”farmer”) jobs outsourced, more people turn to the service industry for work (Not always, but sometimes of flaky, SWPL, zero-value-added nature).

    Politics today blur the lines of farmer/forager & lib/con further with self-righteous baggage on either side (PC or Religious), Foregin Policy and other financial interests at play.

    It’s funny that in the pursuit of self-interest otherwise liberal-thinking wealthy individuals & corporations will actually support conservative government offering them favourable tax incentives.

    Oops…. started rambling a bit.


  54. Anon—

    It would make far more sense to infer that jealousy is a cultural development. There are many tribes that simply do not understand the Western fixation on paternity and fidelity.

    No it doesn’t, and no there aren’t. There are relatively few tribes that don’t care about paternity and they’ve never grow into very successful or powerful societies. I don’t think there’s anywhere where men and women aren’t jealous, despite the fantasies of some free love feminists.

    Paternity is also hardly a Western only fixation. What of China and India, not to mention Islam from North Africa to Indonesia? Patriarchy was nearly universal until cultural Marxism, and was universal in all leading societies.

    I would not want to invest huge resources in a child that isn’t mine genetically. I think genes matter a whole lot. And no I wouldn’t adopt a child.

    The mere fact that it is widespread is not meaningful evidence that it is genetically caused.

    What rubbish. It may not be absolutely 100% conclusive evidence, but it’s damn strong evidence, and obviously what should be presumed absent stronger evidence to the contrary.

    Jealousy is definitely hard wired. It also can be managed in various ways by different cultures, and individuals. It can even be sexualized. It can also be heightened, or deflected.


  55. K(yle)

    From what I’ve heard black Americans certainly seem to have less of a ‘proximity’ issue with group sex, but I’ve also known white cliques that will definitely gangbang a chick and make no bones about it.

    The issue for most alpha’s isn’t never wanting to gangbang a slut or somebody else’s girl. It’s letting others gangbang YOUR girl, if you’re emotionally invested in a relationship with someone.


  56. I don’t know any of the anthropology or archaeology stuff, so I could be all wet, but just speaking theoretically:

    As a matter of game theory, you could design a primitive hunter-gatherer society model where Sex at Dawn polygamy is adaptive — because every male has a shot at mating and because there isn’t really much opportunity to leave the group, if no one is quite sure who their closest relatives are, everyone has an incentive to invest in the next generation. You can even get a little fancy and drive out/kill the least adaptive males and give the most adaptive males extra mating opportunities. If all of the women mate with all of the interested betas once a cycle, then even if they also mate with the alphas ten times a cycle, the betas’ most adaptive strategy is to cooperate with the group. You might need some mechanism to punish coupling, though.

    I’m not sure what that says about how our genes are stacked today, or how they are likely to express in our modern environment, where we (1) can absolutely determine paternity if we care to and (2) there’s no way to keep people in a small group if they have more adaptive opportunities elsewhere.


  57. This is basicly all bullshit.

    We have very very little evidence about sexual relationships more than 20,000 years ago. For that matter we have very little evidence from before writing, and what we have is mostly from people who wrote.

    So everything people say about that is mostly their prejudice talking. We have faint evidence making it seem plausible an issue was one way rather than another, enough to rationally bias our thinking 55:45. Put together ten 55:45 prejudices and get a coherent pattern, and what do you really have?

    We mostly aren’t going by actual data even about today. All of the males who post here are alphas. What do we know about betas or gammas or omegas? We never listen to them. And what do we really know about women? Women lie to us all the time. You know they do.

    What’s this about why women scream during sex? I have had no trouble teaching my wives and girlfriends not to scream during sex, it’s easy. Guess what — they do it because they think you like it.

    Women can’t tell when they ovulate? One woman who can tell can teach any other fertile woman in three minutes. Or hands-on in one minute a day for a week or two, before and during ovulation. This is not rocket science.

    Well, but some women claim they can’t tell. Assume it’s true, what would it mean? You think it’s so they will have sex with some sucker for 3 weeks and then have sex with you when they’re fertile? Maybe that’s what they tell you. But natural selection selects for women who have as many children as they can successfully raise. Not as many as they can comfortably raise. Women who can’t tell when they’re fertile are likely to get pregnant more than women who can tell, and have more children than they would prefer — particularly before the days of easy contraception and easy abortion. Duh.

    DNA analysis has shown with fair consistency, worldwide, the man the woman says is the father is actually the father about 90% of the time. Do women actually go off and choose superior fathers the other 10%? You’d naturally think so when you think about the women who cheated on their partners to be with you. But think about the women who have cheated on you. Was there anything all that great about the losers they picked? No.

    In a society where women average about 2 children each, that’s one woman in five doing lots of cheating. Is it because she is finding a better man than you to have a child by, for you to raise? No. Think about the women who have cheated with you. Did they slip away with you during their fertile time? No, they did it whenever it was convenient. Try out this alternate hypothesis about why some women cheat — Imagine a woman who expects to have sex every other day. And if you don’t have sex with her for two days straight she will have sex with somebody by the third day. Does that fit your experience as well as it fits mine?

    There are potentially giant disadvantages for a woman who cheats sexually in a patriarchal society. She can get killed. Both men might kill each other. Etc. Is there a reason this might get somewhat selected despite these problems? Here’s one: All her children with one man will inherit one of four histocompatibility combinations. Any disease that can evade all four will be trouble for the whole family. But if her lover has the right complexes, her child with him will have one of a different four combinations. If something wipes out her family she might still have a survivor. And it can make a tremendous difference when everybody else is sick, to have one person in good health who can care for the rest. The lover does not need to be in any way “superior”. Just different.

    Hanson, as usual, has come up with a collection of feel-good JustSo stories. Why do people take him seriously? Because it’s fun and it feels good. And Roissy has his competing set of JustSo stories. Should anybody actually believe any of this bullshit? Well, it could be true. The evidence is so weak that none of it can be disproved with any certainty — there is very little supporting or opposing evidence. Why do people believe silly stories without evidence? Ah, hasn’t Hanson studied that question? Is this perhaps an attempt to make up silly stories without evidence to test which of them will be accepted? Maybe Hanson is not as stupid as he appears.


  58. Oh, wow. You published my comment instead of censoring it.

    That makes you better than Robin Hanson.


  59. you do not throw out a theory and then look for supporting facts. It has to be the other way around, not commenters doing the dirty work.


  60. […] – “The Forager/Farmer Thesis is Wrong“, “Why So Serious?“, “Fat and Happy Girl is Fat and Happy“, […]


  61. Start by allowing companies to directly test prospective employees on their abilities to do the job they are applying for. This will take the pressure off employers to weight college degrees so heavily.

    Agree. Imagine GE, Microsoft, or your local power company hiring the high-performance high school students, with a plan for relevant corporate training. Imagine the financial appeal for the student and family to avoid the $40K+++++ debt. Prior to the early 1970s, few hires were predicated on useless collage credentials. Imagine the increased work force efficiency by bypassing four years of playtime/irrelevant studies.


  62. “you do not throw out a theory and then look for supporting facts.”

    Unfortunately, Jesus, this is how it is usually done.

    It fits our foraging instincts. If you know what you’re looking for, you can see how well you’re getting it. You can get a clear idea when it’s time to give up.

    When you just look around to see what you find, you’ll find all sorts of stuff that is mostly inedible. A lot of it won’t even make sense. Then you’ll get interested in something in particular and start focusing on that, and you’ll get an idea about it, and soon you’ve dumped yourself back into biasing your data.

    It’s just how we think.